Distinguished Teaching Recognized . . . and Shared

The William R. Keenan, Jr., Visiting Professorships for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University School of Engineering and Applied Science is part of Princeton’s Presidential Teaching Initiatives. William Arnold and Stefano Gonella were invited because they are recognized as outstanding teacher-scholars who have demonstrated excellence in teaching. They were chosen for their capacity to bring new ideas in undergraduate teaching to Princeton’s campus. 

It is unusual that two professors from the same university would be invited to participate in this prestigious program in the same year and visit the same department. Although they were invited into the same department, they were invited independently by two different professors. Arnold and Gonella will spend their sabbaticals during the 2023-24 academic year conducting research on separate projects and teaching separate classes. Each of them will develop and teach an undergraduate course over the course of the 2023-24 academic year. 

Arnold’s research is focused on the fate of anthropogenic chemicals in natural and engineered systems. Most of his efforts are focused on identifying important transformation processes, understanding detailed reaction mechanisms, and determining reaction rates. His research goals are to be able to predict contaminant fate in natural aquatic systems and to design remediation technologies to treat contaminated waters. Current efforts include studying the photochemical fate of pharmaceuticals and pesticides, studying reactions that occur at mineral surfaces, remediation techniques for fluorochemicals, detection of micropollutants in aquatic systems, assessment of disinfection byproduct precursors, and developing treatment systems for resource recovery. Prof. Arnold is also part of the leadership team of the NSF-funded Circularity Impact Program (https://circularity.umn.edu/) focused on finding sustainable solutions for the water, material, and energy needs of society.

Arnold’s first-year seminar is titled “Slow Death by Rubber Duck: The Effects of Chemicals on the Environment and Us.” The seminar satisfies both the Science and Engineering and the Culture and Difference general education requirements. He will also have opportunities to focus on the art and craft of teaching well and improving teaching at Princeton. 

Gonella’s research focuses on the modeling, simulation and testing of complex dynamic phenomena in unconventional structures and materials, with emphasis on architected solids, phononic crystals and elastic metamaterials. His work strives to blend theoretical, computational, and experimental work to develop ideas holistically from initial theoretical considerations to proof of concept. Some of his recent efforts have been directed toward the investigation of nonlinear waves in periodic media, topological mechanical and dynamical phenomena, and soft mechanical metamaterials. He is also interested in techniques for material diagnostics and structural health monitoring based on the structural mechanics adaptation of selected ideas originated in the fields of machine learning and computer vision.

CEGE is proud to share our excellent teachers, and we look forward to the experiences and perspectives that they will both bring back to UMN.